The Question: Five Books of Blood

The Question: Five Books of Blood
The Question The Five Books of Blood review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: DC - 1-4012-1799-0
  • Release date: 2008
  • UPC: 9781401217990
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: yes
  • Positive minority portrayal?: yes
  • CATEGORIES: Action Thriller, Crime

Spinning out of DC’s 52 and Countdown to Final Crisis, ex-Gotham City cop Renee Montoya takes up the faceless mask and obsessions of the shadowy hero known as the Question and seeks to track down the physical copies and adherents of the gospel of All Things Evil alternatively known as the Books of Blood or the Crime Bible.

This legendary tome is said to counter all that is good in the world and justify and codify all that is wrong. Driven by a need to understand the evils she fights and stop the spread of this monstrous belief, the driven martial artist hunts for the remaining copies of the book and the distinct factions that protect them promote their teachings. She begins by following – or perhaps being stalked by – a diabolical missionary of sin: a monk of darkness, but as she closes on the secret master of the “Dark Faith” she inexorably nears her own ultimate corruption.

Originally released as five inter-related one-shots, each chapter of her quest is preceded by a salutary lesson excerpted from the dreadful chronicle, with each Book of Blood illustrated by a different artist. ‘The Lesson of Deceit’ leads off with art by Tom Mandrake (sample left), followed by ‘The Lesson of Lust’ by Jesus Saiz, ‘The Lesson of Greed’ by Matthew Clark and ‘The Lesson of Murder’ by Diego Olmos, culminating in ‘The Parable of the Faceless’ by Manuel Garcia (sample right). But the shock ending is not what it appears as Greg Rucka’s grim tale and Montoya’s dark voyage was designed to lead directly into the final part of the mega-series triptych Final Crisis.

Moody and stylish, and guest starring Batwoman for a chapter, this hardcover edition also contains rare promotional materials distributed to retailers in the form of Montoya’s notes collected as a hunting journal.

Although highly readable with many excellent set pieces, this book is inextricably wedded to a much larger story and is pretty much impenetrable to casual readers, and the lack of a conclusive ending relegates it to the limited attention of the already converted… which is in many ways the biggest crime.